Friday, September 28, 2007

Figure Comparisons

(Left-Right: Potsdam, Suren, Stadden & RSM)

A number of readers have asked me to provide a comparison of some of the figures used in my 30mm SYW Prussian army with my new Potsdam Miniatures figures. I use a variety of figures for the infantry, including Potsdam Miniatures, Surens, Staddens, Elite, RSM and Foundry, to name but a few. My apologies for the lack of suitable comparitive pictures, but if you click on the one shown above, you will get a better view of four of my personal favorite ranges for the Seven Years War.

The following list depicts the measurements that I took of the figures, from the bottom of the foot to the top of the head. The list provides the measurement from head to toe as well as my own personal assessment of the figure's appearance or heft). The asterisk line is my subjective cut off point of which figures I think work together, a sort of small versus large grouping of the figures.

Martin Hille (35mm / Medium)
Suren/Willie (35mm / Thin)
Potsdam (35mm / Medium)
Stadden (34mm / Medium)
Crusader (33mm / Chunky)
Eagle (33mm/ Medium)
Elite (32mm / Medium)
Perry (31mm / Medium)
Eureka (31mm / Medium)
RSM (31mm / Thin)
Warrior (31mm / Thin)
Front Rank (31mm / Chunky)
Foundry (30mm / Chunky)
Hinchcliffe (29mm / Medium)
Old Glory (29mm / Medium)

I use all of the above figures in my armies for various reasons. For example, I require larger artillery crew to go with my Staddens etc, so I selected Foundry's Prussian foot artillery crew because the selection is the broadest (6 different poses) and their relative chunkiness overcomes their lack of height, which fools the eye into thinking that they match the taller figures on the list. I also use Hinchcliffe's Prussian Horse Artillery crew (5 poses).

I find that if you keep all the figures from one range within one battalion, that the whole battalion will look just fine with taller or shorter battalions on the same table. Again, the "mass" of the large 60-figure battalions fools your eye into thinking that there is no discernible difference in their height.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Von Reusch's Black Hussars

HR5 Von Reusch Hussars - 30mm Staddens (by Der Alte Fritz)

Click on pictures to enlarge.

A Little Interlude In The Colonies
The past week has been rather busy, so Der Alte Fritz has not been able to post anything lately. Last Saturday, Bill Protz and Randy Frye visited Schloss Seewald for a game with my American Revolution figures. I set up a small 3-player game on the McPherson's Ridge Gettysburg terrain and was quite the gracious host in allowing my guests to win the game. The scenario sort of mimicked Buford's delaying action against Henry Heth's Confederates, only with Continental Dragoons filling in for Buford's boys and the British standing in for Mister Heth's lads. This time, there actually was a lot of militia at Gettysburg (which I called Chester Courthouse for this game).

So two brigades of British (one comprised of regulars, and the other comprised of Loyalists, Light Dragoons and the converged Light Battalion) advanced on the town and rather quickly blew right through the dragoons and the militia. Then General Weedon's brigade of Virginian Continentals arrived in the nick of time and just as quickly, they departed rather unceramoniously. It was a convincing British victory, to say the least. We used my own "Sons of Liberty" rules for the American Revolution (that would be the AWI to our British cousins across the pond), which are a variant of my "Alte Fritz SYW Rules" . The rules are printed on one side of a regular 8-1/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper. I have also used the same mechanical system for "Age of Rome" and "Age of Napoleon". I will talk about the rules and this game in a future post, but for now, enough of the AWI. Let's get back to the Seven Years War.

The Black Hussars
One cannot help but find an attraction for those handsome rogues dressed in black with a skull and cross bones symbol embroidered on the front of their mirliton. This is Hussar Regiment No. 5, von Reusch, in the service of King Frederick II of Prussia. The regiment was formed in 1741 and recruited from East Prussia.

As Christopher Duffy puts it:

"They were renowned for the wealth of their officers and the ferocity of their hussars. Distinguished at Hennersdorf in 1743, and three squadrons distinguished in western Germany in the Seven Years War."

As noted by Duffy, Frederick sent 3 squadrons to fight in Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick's army in western Germany, along with 2 squadrons of the Yellow Hussars (HR7) and Dragoon Regiment (No. 10) von Finck. The remaining squadrons of the Black Hussars fought with Lehwaldt's army in East Prussia and were faced with the task of holding back the Russians. There is a rather famous picture drawn by Adolph Menzel which depicts a squardron of HR5 cleaving its way through a Russian artillery battery at Gross Jagersdorf. Such things warm the cockles of Der Alte Fritz's heart.

HR5 On The Tabletop
The figures shown above depict two squadrons of 12 figures for our Batailles de l'Ancien Regime ("BAR") rules. The castings are from the 30mm Stadden range. I think that they are rather handsome figures, don't you? The swords have all been replaced by pin swords so that they won't break off. I simply clip off the original spindly looking sword at the hilt and file it flat with a small file. Then with an Exacto knife, I poke an indention into the center of the hilt and use this as a guide for my pin vise. The pin vise is a miniature hand drill used by jewelers and hobbyists and everyone should have a pin vise in their tool kit. Once the hole is drilled, I select a common sewing pin for the sword. I smash the sucker flat as a pancake with a hammer and then clip the flat pin head off with tin snips. Then I file the silver plating off the pin at the base, where I intend to insert it into the hole that I've drilled into the hilt. A dab of super glue, and voila! Instant pin sword. The filing of the pin is important because it scrapes off the plating and allows for a bare metal on metal bond with the glue. You don't have to solder the pin swords on - super glue works just fine.

I also have a set of dismounted Black Hussars (Foundry figures) that I use in case I want to dismount a squadron or two and fight on foot. This can come in handy when they have dashed around the enemy's flank and are trying to secure a key town or bridge. This might be a reason why they seem to vex my regular opponent, Monsieur le generale de Chevert (Bill Protz). They are rather hard to catch, although I can recall several instances where they were virtually wiped out after running into heavier French cavalry. I addressed this problem by adding a third squadron recently (they have yet to be based as of this date) and they will make their debut in the Big Old School Wargamers Game on October 13, 2007.

I have rather fond memories of the Black Hussars' performance at the Battle of Pettstadt at last year's Old School wargaming event. They were capably commanded by George Rust and rode rings around the French all day. By the end of the game, they were happily riding through and over French infantry in the rear areas of the French army that day. Ah yes, what fond memories.

Painting Update
I completed the second half of the Prussian grenadier battalion Jung Billerbeck (5/20) this evening. I had previously completed the 24 figures from the IR20 regiment that comprise this converged grenadier battalion. Now the grenadiers from IR5 are completed and the two halves can be combined to form one big 48 figure battalion at 1:10 ratio. These will also make their debut at the Big Game on October 13th. I have a lot of figure basing ahead of me, so the painting poduction will probably be on hold until after the Big Game is completed. I'm getting excited about this year's game. We have 17 players signed up for the game, compared to 12 at last year's event. It should be quite a spectacle with 20 plus battalions per side for this grand BAR game, to be played on two 6ft by 25ft tables (with an imaginary aisle in between).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Greene's Division At Brandywine - 1777

10th Virginia Regt - George Weedon's Brigade

5th Virginia Regt - Peter Muhlenberg's Brigade

General Washington & Staff Confer at Chester Court House

9th Virginia Regt. - Muhlenburg's Brigade

Please click on the pictures to enlarge the photographs

In the previous post, Der Alte Fritz outlined how he organized his British and American forces around the battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777 . I have posted several pictures of some of the units that comprise the 1st Virginia Brigade, under the command of Brigadier General Peter Muhlenberg, and the 2nd Virginia Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General George Weedon. The figures shown in the pictures are primarily from the Old Glory American Revolution range. The figure scale used is 1:10, i.e. one casting represents ten real soldiers.

The order of battle for these two brigades consist entirely of regiments from the Old Dominion State of Virginia. The first number, shown in parentheses, is the estimated number of men in the regiment and the second number represents the number of wargame figures used to create the brigade on the tabletop.

1st Virginia Brigade - Muhlenberg (850) - 90 figures
1st Va. Regt (120) - 20 figures - blue coat w/red facings
5th Va. Regt. (127) - 20 figures - blue coat w/red facings
9th Va. Regt. (391) - 30 figures - hunting shirts
13th Va. Regt. (200) - 20 figures - blue coat w/ yellow facings

2nd Virginia Brigade - Weedon (900) - 90 figures
2nd Va. Regt. (182) - 20 figures - blue coat w/red facings
6th Va. Regt. (223) - 30 figures - grey coat w/green facings, bowler hat
10th Va. Regt. (295) - 30 figures - hunting shirts
14th Va. Regt. (100) - nil
Stewart's Pa. (100) - 10 figures - brown coat w/green facings

My methodology in deciding the number of figures per regiment starts by taking 10% of the reported number of real men and seeing if that results in a viable wargame unit of close to 20 or 30 figures. In Muhlenberg's brigade, I basically rounded the 9th Virginia Regt. down to 300 men and allocated the remainder to the 1st and the 5th Virginia regiments. Then, I rounded those smaller regiments up to 20 figures. I could have also merged two smaller units together and maybe called on of the units the 1st/5th Virginia Regiment. No doubt some reorganization such as this might have occurred in real life once a couple of regiments were depleted by casualties , sickness, expiring commitments, etc.

In the second Virginia Brigade, I completely eliminated the 14th Virginia and allocated its men to other regiments. As a result, I was able to increase the 6th, which look rather natty in their grey coats and bowler round hats, while simply rounding up the 2nd Virginia to 200 men and the 10th Virginia to 300 men. I decided to keep Stewart's small Pennsylvania regiment on the books so that I could have a couple of dinky regiments on the table. I would imagine that the Continental Army had a lot of undersized regiments such as Stewart's, so it adds to the verisimilitude (how do you like that word?) of my army.

I should also mention that each Continental brigade also gets a skirmish stand of 3 figures. Skirmishers simply roll a D10 die and score a "hit" on a roll of "2" or less. So they can be quite pesky if you have luck with your game dice. Each brigade has a command stand with 2 figures on a 2-inch square stand. Usually both figures are mounted, although sometimes I had the second figure standing on the ground to create a mini-diorama. Division commanders such as General Greene are also mounted two per stand. The army command stand, shown third from the top, has three figures. This depicts general Washington (from the Old Glory Continental personalties pack) with one mounted aide and a second aide standing on the ground with his foot on a barrel as he peers through a telescope. This figure was included with the artillery command bag for the American side. It makes for a nice diorama for the army command stand, don't you think?

This all adds up to 180 figures plus 6 skirmishers, 4 mounted brigade command figures and 2 mounted division command figures in Nathanael Greene's division, or 192 figures in total. That is a relatively easy amount of figures to paint over several months and it is why the American Revolution is a good candidate for the 1:10 ratio of castings. It doesn't involve huge wargame units as the regiments average only 20 to 30 figures.

I hope that you enjoyed this little peek at Greene's division and that you will come away with an understanding of how Der Alte Fritz organizes an army. I will try to post some more pictures, perhaps of the Loyalist Forces, in my next blog entry within the next couple of days. Oh, one more thing, the buildings were designed and created by Herb Gundt of H.G. Walls and the terrain boards were made by Tony Adams.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

American Revolutionary War - 1777 Campaign

3rd Continental Light Dragoons (Baylor's) - Firing Line Miniatures

3rd Continental Light Dragoons (Baylor's) Dismounted

1st Pennsylvania Regt - Hartley's Brigade - 28mm Old Glory Miniatures

British 44th Foot - Maj.Gen. Charles Grey's Brigade - Old Glory Miniatures

Note: please click on the pictures to enlarge the photo.

If the subject is anywhere remotely related to 18th Century military history, then Der Alte Fritz is likely to have an interest in painting the figures and wargaming the conflict. So it should come as no surprise that Der Alte Fritz has a rather substantial collection of 28mm figures for the American Revolution. Circa 1991, Old Glory Miniatures introduced a comprehensive range of British, American Continentals and Militia figures and it didn't take me long to decide that I would like to game this period of history. I have often thought that the American Revolution range was, and still is, one of the best figure ranges that Old Glory has ever done. Sixteen years later, I still believe that these are very nicely sculpted figures.

Getting Started: As with most new historical periods, my modus operandus is to do a little bit of back ground reading with the goal of focusing in on a particular battle or campaign. There are many campaigns in the American Revolution that are conducive to fun wargames so there is hardly a lack of choice for anyone who is just getting started in this period. Washington's 1776 campaign around New York City features a very poor army with a nice variety of colorful uniforms (blue, green and brown are the predominant colors). However, the Continental Army shouldn't have much of a chance fighting the well-trained army of British General Howe, so I opted out of this campaign.

Other campaigns of interest include the Saratoga Campaign, the various campaigns in the Southern colonies, and the end game at Yorktown, where one can add the colorful French army to the predominantly blue-coated Continentals. But the campaign that kept attracting my attention was the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign.

Washington's Continentals are better trained by this time and they have a decent chance of holding their own in a straight up fire fight with the British. Maybe. I doubt it though. Howe, ever the professional, continues to confound Washington with his standard tactic of pinning the enemy with one wing of the army, while the other wing marches around its flank. Very effective. Very darn bloody, old bean.

Another aspect of this campaign that appeals to me is the addition of the Hessian brigades in Howe's army (well, actually they were at New York in 1776, but I digress...). You all know how I feel about blue coated German troops. So it has an element of the Seven Years War to it, but the fighting is in North American.

Selecting An Order of Battle: Having selected the campaign, it was now time to select a battle to fight. Once this was done, my next step would be to focus in on one or two brigades on each side and work up an order of battle to depict these brigades. I decided to use the Battle of Brandywine as my guide to building my American Revolution forces. Fortunately, all the information that I could hope to find was in one particular book, The Philadelphia Campaign, by David G. Martin. This is part of the Great Campaigns series of books published by Combined Books, Inc in 1993. You may have seen this series: blue cover, orders of battle in the appendix, sidebar articles on related topics, well-mapped , and tons of photos or black and white drawers.

For Washington's army, I selected Nathanael Greene's division of Virginia troops. Greene's division was composed of two brigades, that of Peter Muhlenberg (850 men) and George Weedon (900 men). I also added Anthony Wayne's division of Pennsylvania regiments under the brigades of Colonel Thomas Hartley (850 men) and Colonel Richard Humpton (900 men). Given the small sizes of the regiments, I decided to build the army at a figure to man ratio of 1:10 (i.e. one casting is the equivalent of 10 men in real life). With these small numbers, it isn't hard to build up a nice looking brigade with around 90 figures. Thus the American army ended up with four brigades of infantry ( I later added one brigade of militia as well), some 3-pound artillery, and two regiments of light dragoons. So conceivably, up to six players could man the Continental army.

On the British side, I selected two brigades from General Cornwallis' division at Brandywine, those of Major General Charles Grey (1,500 men) and Brigadier General James Agnew (1,383 men). Part of the appeal of Grey's brigade was that this one included the 42nd Highland Regiment (Black Watch). The balance of the regiments in both brigades were regular foot regiments. The average unit size of my British regiments was 30 figures (except for the 60 figure 42nd Regt). Just for the fun of it, I also painted a 50 figure converged grenadier battalion , a converged light battalion of 50 figures, the Queen's Rangers (40 figures), two Hessian regiments of 50 or 60 figures, a small 20 figure contingent of dragoon (16th Light Dragoons) and a couple of Royal Artillery 3-pound cannon. And so the British side has 2 British brigades, 1 Hessian brigade, and an elite brigade of converged grenadiers, lights and one regiment of dragoons and some artillery, for a total of 4 players.

The Pictures: I have included 4 pictures of my American Revolution armies with today's posting. The top two pictures depict some Continental Light Dragoons in "jockey helmet" that are painted as the 3rd Continental Dragoon's (Baylor's regiment). These were figures that I had commissioned with Firing Line Miniatures. I agreed to purchase a certain number of figures (men and horses) and in return, the company agreed to sculpt the figures and add them to their range. They come with 3 or 4 different head variations in order to depict a larger number of Continental dragoon units.

The rest of the pictures depict the fine Old Glory range of figures for the American Revolution. The third picture from the top depicts some of the Continental troops, painted in the brown coat and green facings of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment in Hartley's brigade of Wayne's division. The bottom picture features an unusual "firing line" with the front rank firing and the rear rank loading. I like the way the figures fit together in perfect unison. Note the British officer on the far right of the front line, dropping his handkerchief as a firing signal.

The Big Sale: I am planning on putting these armies up for sale. There are approximatley 450 figures per side or some 900 in total. I will do a proper inventory and post the results later in the week. I do not wish to break the armies down and sell them by the unit, as I don't want to end up selling substantially one side and then having nothing to game with if the urge strikes me. The figures were painted from 1991 to 1994 and I would estimate that they have only seen battle four or five times at the most. The figures are painted to an above average standard with moderate degrees of shading/highlighting ( I had not entirely bought into this method of painting at the time that they were done). I don't recall where I got the flags, it might have been the ones designed by Orv Banisek in Iowa. GMB Designs flags hadn't been invented in 1991, otherwise I probably would have used those instead. If you think that you might be intersted in buying this nice collection, then contact me through the "comments" section of this blog or send me an e-mail at "altefritz (at) yahoo (dot) com" and we can discuss this in further detail.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Martin Hille Miniatures

Martin Hille Miniatures (pictures from the company's web site)

My recent box of goodies from Berlin Zinnfiguren also included a few packets of the 30mm Martin Hille miniatures, or to be more precise, I believe that they might be called Kellerkind Miniaturen by Martin Hille. I have copied some pictures of the painted figures from the company's web site since I haven't had the time to paint the ones that I bought.

I first heard of Martin Hille figures on the Old School Wargamers yahoo group and when I investigated further and saw the above photographs, I saw the possibility of adding some of these interesting figures to my wargame collection. I like to have a few battalions from every manufacturer of figures within the 30mm part of the hobby. Now when I talk about a few battalions, you must remember that I mean 60 figure battalions, so this investment represents more than just a few figures.

The figures have a slightly cartoonish appearance to them, particularly in the way the faces are sculpted. Each figure measures 35mm from the soles of the shoes to the top of the head. I don't know about anyone else, but I've never subscribed to the idea of measuring a figure from foot to eyeballs. What about the rest of the head? That would be like saying that Wilt Chamberlain was 6 feet 9 inches instead of 7 feet tall. However, I digress...

The figures have realistic body proportions, so everything appears to be in the right scale and they look like real people. The heads are not too big nor are the hands like baseball mitts. So they pass Der Alte Fritz's muster and they have a good chance of entering the service of the Herzog von Hesse Seewald (my fictional 18th Century duchy located in central Germany, between Hesse Kassel and Saxony).

There are only a couple minor drawbacks to this range of figures. The first being that they only come in one pose, the one that you see in the pictures above. There is nothing wrong with the pose, but some people might like more variety of poses. To my way of thinking, a single pose is all right for the formalized linear warfare that we like to depict on the table top.

The second little quibble with the figures involves the bases. Each figure has a large rounded pin or peg sticking out from the bottom of the feet and you are given a little round disc with a hole in the center (it looks like a Life Savor candy). So you have to assemble the base by slipping the disc onto the peg, hacking off a substantial chunk of the lead peg, and then filing down the stub of the peg until it is flat with the disc. Oh, and don't forget to glue the pieces together. This might also put a few people off, especially if you do not care to assemble things. The assembly is a minor job and easy to do. However, I thought that you should be forwarned.

The figures come in two different packets of three figures: musketeers and grenadiers at a cost of EURO7.95 per pack. That works out to EURO2.65 per figure or about $3.45 each in US Dollars. The officers come in a pack of two figures for EURO5.95. So these figures are not cheap by wargamers' standards and they require some assembly, but they have a certain appeal and charm to them that I like and I can imagine how impressive a battalion of 60 Martin Hille figures would look. So I will probably buy some more to fill out the battalion. The range also includes a pack of soldiers' wives or camp followers and I believe that I read that musicians (drummers and fifers) and zimmermen (pioneers) are planned for the future.

You can purchase Martin Hille figures from the Berlin Zinnfiguren store in Berlin, or directly from the company through its web site (for the same price). You can click on the BZ link on the left hand side of this page for more information.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Haubitze Arrives From Potsdam

10 Pound Prussian Howitzer (Berlin Zinnfiguren - No. 268/4)

Der Alte Fritz (c'est moi) arrived home this evening after a long day of inspecting the troops and was pleased to find that a package had arrived from Herr Schulz in Berlin. I eagerly opened the box and found a nice assortment of wagons, pontoons, etc that I talked about last week. But the piece that I was most eager to see was the 10 Pound Howitzer (or Haubitze) manufactured by Berlin Zinnfiguren.

I have provided two pictures of this wonderful model, above, to give everyone a sense of the size and proportion of the gun and the limber to wargame figures. The top picture depicts the howitzer unlimbered. A 28mm Foundry Prussian artillery crewman is standing next to the gun model. The proportions look pretty good to me. The second picture depicts the howitzer and the limber (mit protze) along with a pair of Front Rank heavy draft horses from their 18th Century equipment range. I plan on using the Front Rank horse with the Berlin Zinnfiguren guns and so I was pleased to see that the fit is near perfect. I placed an RSM95 artillery drover atop the Front Rank horse and again, I think we have a good match of figures. I am contemplating taking one of the RSM95 Prussian dragoon castings and converting it to an artillery team driver. I think that it would only require some moderate filing off of the lapels and aigulettes on the dragoon figure. Then a whip could be fashioned out of brass rod and florists' wire and placed in the figure's hand.

The quality of the Berlin Zinnfiguren casting is very high, as you can tell if you click on the pictures to enlarge them. I was also pleased to find that the limber and gun models arrived already assembled. So all I have to do is wash the castings in a little bit of Isopropyl Alcohol (70% solution will do just fine) to ensure that there is no powder or mould release on the castings and then it should be ready for priming and painting. I will black prime the models. Then paint the woodwork dark blue and then dry brush with light or royal blue paint. The metal work will be black with dark grey dry brushed over the metal bits.

I think that the Berlin Zinnfiguren artillery pieces will work well with most 28mm and 30mm figure ranges. The gun model is comparable in size to the Foundry cannons, albeit a couple of millimeters higher. Other gun models that should match these include RSM95 and Elite Miniatures' 1806 range of Prussian guns. The Elite SYW gun models will dwarf these limbers, but maybe their smaller 3-pd and 4-pd guns would fit OK with the limbers. You can buy the Berlin Zinnfiguren limbers separately or as a set that includes the cannon. Mail deliver was less than a week by air mail and the customer service from the company is first rate. Highly recommended, as Hal Thinglum would say.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Prussian Grenadier Figures Arrive

Prussian Grenadiers IR20 (Potsdam Miniatures)

I have been working on the first batch of my new Prussian Grenadiers over the weekend and thought that I would share some pictures with everyone. The figures are part of my own range of Potsdam Miniatures which are designed to be compatible with 30mm Surens and Staddens. Please click on the pictures for a larger view of the figures.

The figures shown above are painted as the grenadier companies from IR20 (Bornstedt). Eventually they will be paired with an equal number of figures from the IR5 (Alt Braunschweig) regiment to form Grenadier Battalion Jung-Billerbeck, also designated as (5/20), signifying that the component companies come from IR5 and IR20. The grenadiers from IR5 have straw breeches, waistcoat and facings and differ from the white breeches & waistcoat with red facings of the IR20 grenadiers.

It has actually taken me about a week to paint the 24 figures shown in the first picture; this includes a marathon painting session of five or six hours on Saturday. I strive to paint at least one hour per day and I find that one can achieve steady progress at this pace. One hour a day doesn't sound like much, but the figures magically roll off the assembly line using this process.

I have the other 24 castings for the second batch primed and ready to paint. Tomorrow I will coat the figures completely in acrylic black paint. I find that primer black has a rather harsh look and I think that the extra coat of black paint softens the look of the black parts. Then I will block in the dark blue for the coats and call it an evening. Then I will block in the basic colors of the breeches and waistcoat, then the skin, the brown knapsack/musket/hair on the second day. After that, the fun begins as I get to work on the details and start highlighting the basic colors that I've already blocked in. It should take about a week to finish the second set of 24 figures.

Jung-Billerbeck will receive its baptism of fire on October 13, 2007 when I host my annual Big Battalion game for the Old School Wargaming group. I expect that we will have approximately 20 battalions of infantry per side, or more, and 10 to 15 squadrons of cavalry per side. The game will be played on two 6ft by 24ft tables with an aisle in between the the two parallel tables. The aisle is imaginery, so sometimes players will face each other across the aisle and not realize that they are really six inches away from the opponent, rather than 48-inches across the aisle. A little fog of war that can prove deadly to those who do not pay attention.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

I Obey The King, And You Shall Obey Me!

Friedrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz (Suren Figure - by Der Alte Fritz)

Officers of CR2 Prinz von Preussen Regt. (Elite Miniatures & GMB Flag)

Prinz von Preussen Cuirasseris (Elite Miniatures - Der Alte Fritz)

Von Seydlitz: Possibly the most famous cavalry commander of the 18th Century was the Prussian Lt. General von Seydlitz, whom I have depicted in the first picture above with one of the Suren/Willie 30mm figures in my collection. I think that he strikes a rather jaunty pose on his leaping charger and with his sword held aloft. Were I more adept at minor conversions, I suppose that I could have had Seydlitz tossing his clay pipe into the air, as at Rossbach. Instead, I gave him a stouter RSM sword to replace the rather feeble Suren sword that he came with. You will also note the usual round base that indicates one of my army or brigade commanders in our Batailles de l'Ancien Regime (BAR) rules.

Von Seydlitz began his career as a cornet in the Rochow Cuirassier regiment at the start of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1741. He first came to the attention of King Frederick while serving as an orderly officer during a skirmish with the Austrians. Von Seydlitz overheard Frederick ask what the calibre of gun was that was firing on his flank. So Seydlitz impetuously rode toward the battery and picked up a spent round from the ground, wrapped it in his handkerchief and presented it to the King. He was promoted to captain in the Natzmer White Hussars (HR4) in 1743, was promoted to major after serving with distinction at Hohenfriedberg and Soor in 1745. He was later promoted to Lt.-Colonel of the White Hussars in 1752 and promted to full colonel by 1755, prior to the outbreak of the SYW.

In command of a brigade of cuirassiers at Lobositz in 1756, Frederick asks Seydlitz for his assessment of the Austrian position and asks him if his cuirassiers can overthrow the Austrian horse. "Yes, but the cannon of Lobosiz will soon bring me to my senses," replies Seydlitz.

His perfermance at Kolin in June 1757 was where his star really began to shine. With the death of Major General von Krosigk, Seydlitz assumes the command of a heavy brigade of 10 squadrons of cuirassiers and 5 squadrons of dragoons. His spirited attack of the Austrian position on Krechor Hill rides down the Wurttemburg Dragoons, the Saxon Carabineers, and the Hungarian foot regiment of Haller. The German regiments of Baden and Deutschmeister are also pushed back, but the Botta regiment holds firm and Seydlitz had to retire his blown horses and reorganize.

In recognition of his valor at Kolin, Seydlitz was awarded the Pour-le-Merite and promoted to Major General. When congratulated by Zieten on his promotion, he replied, "it is high time Excellency, if they want to get anything more out of me, I am already thirty-six." Seydlitz is effectively made commander of all Prussian cavalry prior to Rossbach (November 1757), surpassing other more senior officers in the jump. To those who claim seniority, he merely says, "Gentlemen, I obey the King, and you will obey me!" And the rest, as they say, is history as Seydlitz's attack of the Austrian-French cavalry is followed up by a crushing second attack into the flank of the Allied infantry, sweeping them off the field of Rossbach.

Now tell me, who wouldn't want such a man leading his cavalry into battle? Der Alte Fritz certainly appreciates the talents of von Seydlitz. In our BAR games, I gladly pay the points to include an "elite" cavalry general in my army - von Seydlitz - at the expense of another trooper or two. His effect on the morale of his troops has come in handy in many a battle, proving to be the difference between wining the melee or routing off the field.

Prinz von Preussen Cuirassiers: The third picture from the top depicts all 5 squadrons of my rendition of CR2 (Prinz von Preussen - inhaber). The figures all come from the Elite Miniatures range of SYW Prussian cavalry. I really like the animation in the horse that Peter Morbey sculpts and when you put a bunch of them together, the whole unit seems to be in motion. Each squadron of 12 riders includes one officer, one trumpeter and one cornet (standard bearer) holding a GMB Designs standard. If you look closer at the middle picture (click to enlarge all pictures) you will see that I used some twisted florist's wire to make flag cords.

Given that we call Bill Protz's French Carabiniers "The Thundering Herd", I had to come up with an equally evocative moniker for my large regiment. I finally settled on the title, "Death By Cavalry". I chortle when I recall the look on the faces of the French when they saw all five squadrons (60 figures) for the first time. Ah yes, it makes for a rather fond memory for Der Alte Fritz.

What could be next, ten squadrons of the Bayreuth Dragoons (120 figures)? Hmm, there is an idea worth pursuing.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


The Village of Gross-Gundtburg, Silesia (buildings by HG Walls)

The Gasthaus Alter Fritz in Gross-Gundtburg (buildings by HG Walls)

Der Alte Fritz is perfectly satisfied with nothing but the best, so when he requires a building or a piece of terrain, he turns to that master architect supreme, Herb Gundt of H.G. Walls for the piece. Herr Gundt has been the official royal architect to the King of Prussia since at least 1990 and maybe even longer than that. Click on the pictures to see a larger view of Herb's work.

I would guess that Herb has easily made over 50 different buildings for me over the past 15 years or so. Projects include the walled churchyard at Hochirch, several sail-styled windmills, red-tiled houses and thatched roof houses for 18th Century Prussia, Sokolnitz Castle, a complete Roman village and villa, an American colonial village, McPherson's Barn at Gettysburg and perhaps the most amazing work of all, the village of Leuthen done in winter with ice and snow all about.

One of Herb's greatest strengths is his ability to take a client's pictures or hand drawn concepts and to execute them to perfection. I can hand him a sheaf of sketches containing my ideas and it seems like he always builds exactly what I had in mind, or as often is the case, the execution is even better than I could have imagined. Whenever I travel to historical sites in Europe or the US, I take along a camera and take scores of pictures to use as ideas for future projects.

The village pictured above, which I have called Gross-Gundtburg, is the result of two separate projects that I had Herb work on for me. During the 1994 Christopher Duffy Tour of Fredrician battlefields in Saxony and Lusatia, we visited Hochirch, where in 1758 the Austrian army of Marshall Leopold von Daun surprised Frederick in his camp at the village of the same name. Converging columns of Austrians attacked the Prussian camp from three directions and very nearly destroyed Frederick's army. They probably would have but for the gallant stand of the Margraf Karl (IR19) regiment in the walled churchyard at Hochirch. On our tour, we ate lunch at the Gasthaus Alter Fritz, which you can see in the pictures above. After lunch, I circled my way around the churchyard, taking pictures of every possible angle, for I knew that I would have to have a model of the church made by Herb. Needless to say, it is a beauty.

The thatched buildings come from a "Silesia Project" that Herb built for me. You may be able to notice the existence of stork's nests atop some of the chimneys in the pictures. For some unknown reason, Silesian storks build their nests in such precarious places. The little thatched bird house comes from a Menzel drawing that I found. Herr Gundt likes to add little extra touches such as the scarecrow in the garden of one of the out-buildings. He made the scarecrow's head out of a pumpkin casting from a Sleepy Hollow range of figures and plunked it atop of a pole. It makes for a rather quaint vignette. Other little gems include things like laundry drying on a clothes line between several of the buildings, piles of firewood and various work tools sitting in the yard. Herb is a pleasure to work with and I give his work my highest possible endorsement.

Oh by the way, the figures marching through the village are from the Old Glory SYW range, the trees are from K&M and I have no idea who made the deer, although I think that I recall buying them from Ral Partha at a convention many years ago.

Making Your Own Terrain SquaresYou may also be wondering about the terrain boards that you see in the pictures. Der Alte Fritz made these himself. Imagine that! These were part of a purpose-built set that I constructed to re-enact the Battle of Kolin (June 1757). I took the map from the Clash of Arms boardgame, Kolin, and converted the hexes into a ground scale. From there I was able to convert the boardgame into a grid that I used to layout the terrain squares.

I used 2 feet square ceiling tiles as the foundation for each terrain square. Why? Because Der Alte Fritz does not have a table saw with which to cut perfect squares from MDF board. And even if he did have such equipment, he is too much of a chicken to even want to use the saw. Fritz likes to keep all of his fingers and thumbs, thank you very much.

The contours were built up with pink insulation boards and then an undercoat of brown paint was applied to the surface. The next step was to apply gallons of spackle compound, pre-mixed with brown paint, to the squares. Where there were roads, I penciled in the road outline and did not apply the dark brown spackle to the road areas. I came back after the boards dried and troweled in a tan colored spackle for the roads. Wheel tracks were then imbedded into the wet spackle using old artillery castings. Then some fine sand or talus was randomly sprinkled about the still wet road for added texture. It can take about one to three days for this all to dry out, depending on how much spackle was applied to the board.

The grass process was next. I drybrushed some tan paint over the dry boards to provide highlights to the ground. The dry brushing effect is quite evident on the hills in the background in the top picture. Then I sprayed Woodland Scenics "scenic cement" over the surface and shook out a layer of light brown flock on the surface. I let this dry over night. The next day, I went back and sprinkled a layer of fine texture "burnt grass" atop the brown flock. This can be randomly scattered in blotches all over the board. I like to leave some brown areas without grass for variety and the grass colors can vary from light to dark. Be careful that you don't get too "splotchy" with the green flock and end up with the dreaded "spotted cow effect" on your squares. You will find that you develop a pretty good feel for what will look right after you have made your first couple of terrain squares. So don't worry about the cow effect.

Terrain squares are not as difficult to make as they would appear at first sight. The process takes several days and can be tedious at times. However, the end result is certainly worth all of the effort, as you can attest to from the pictures above. If a complete klutz such as Der Alte Fritz can make terrain squares, then anyone should be able to do the same. Terrain squares are not as flexible or transportable as the traditional felt cloth and telephone directories method, but the visual payoff makes it worth all the time and effort.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Hesse-Seewald Garde

Suren Prussians IR6 (painted by Der Alte Fritz) - click to enlarge picture

Over the past two years I have been playing an informal campaign with my wargaming pard' Bill Protz, as we developed and play tested his Batailles de l'Ancien Regime (or "BAR") rules. Bill has a rather large collection of 30mm Suren, Stadden, Front Rank and Redoubt French that provide the regular opposition to my Prussian army. Bill's wargaming philosophy has been highly influenced by the late Brigadier General Peter Young, as depicted in his classic book "Charge, Or How To Play Wargames" as well as by Charles Grant's "The Wargame." By this I mean that Bill approaches wargaming as a gentlemanly social event, free of rancour, petty rules lawyering and epitomized by fair play and sportsmanship.

Bill Protz Contemplating the Gentlemanly Sport of Thrashing Der Alte Fritz's Prussian Hussars (Staddens) With His 60-figure (Suren & Elite) French Carabinier Regiment. - Click picture to englarge.

One of the delightful tenets of wargaming in the manner of Brigadier Young is to establish fictional countries and antagonists to represent our forces on the table top. One of the reasons for doing this is to eliminate national characteristics, which can lead to arguments over how fast the Prussians can march and shoot compared to the French and Austrians, and things of that ilk. (I like to use the word "ilk". There's something pleasant about the way it sounds). So in the Youngian and Grantian tradition, Bill's French army has become the latinized Army of Gallia while my Prussians stand in for the Army of Germania and its ally, Hesse-Seewald (I simply added "Hesse" to the German words for Lake Forest, which is my home town).

So while we are using fictional countries and armies in our informal campaign, the figures are actually painted, based and organized along the lines of the armies of France, Prussia, Austria (Imperium), Britain (Britannia) and Russia (la Russie). The salient point to take away from all of this is that our fictional countries are grounded in some manner of historical reality in terms of the uniforms, flags and regimental organization. By eliminating national characteristics, our battles are decided by who is the better general that day, or who had better luck getting the right cards at the key moment. BAR rules use a deck of cards to determine movement and firing initiatives on each turn. So you could be a very good general who loses badly for no other reason than the fact that all of the cards went against you. C'est la vie.

The picture shown at the top of the page, above, depicts my Hesse Seewald Garde. In reality they are the Prussian Garde Grenadier (IR6) Battalion of Frederick the Great. I have painted the figures, which are from the Suren Willie range of 30mm SYW figures, as IR6 Prussians. However, instead of Prussian flags, I substituted Hessian flags from GMB Designs. Thus all of my Prussian regiments can serve double duty as either Prussian-flagged battalions or Hessian-flagged battalions, simply by exchanging the standard bearer in each unit. Note that the flags are topped off with finials from Front Rank. I like the flowing cords of the finials. There are a nice little touch. I like things of that ilk. Sometimes, I will use twisted florist's wire to make rope cording and wrap it around the tip of the flag if I have the urge to make my own finials. The flag poles are thus made from brass wire, with the tip pounded flat with a common carpenter's hammer. Then I file a point to the tip - sort of like making a spear, if you will.

The picture in the middle of the page depicts Bill's 60 figure Royal Carabiniers regiment as they prepare to charge into the Prussian Black Hussars of Der Alte Fritz. Bill could have painted all ten squadrons of the Carabiniers, some 110 to 120 figures. But I am forever grateful that he chose the sensible approach and stopped at 5 squadrons or 60 figures. The Royal Carabiniers are comprised largely of figures from the Elite Miniatures SYW range of 28mm French cavalry, as well as some Suren-Willie officers and Front Rank kettle drummers.

This little minuet a cheval occured at the Seven Years War Association Convention in March 2006. Note the look of glee in Bill's eyes as he contemplates the thrashing that his heavy cavalry is about to serve up to my light cavalary.

Some wargamers may find our table top a bit too spartan for their own taste, what with this being the golden age of purpose-built, realistic terrain boards done by such masters as Paul Darnell of Touching History and others of that ilk. Don't get me wrong, I love terrain boards and they are hard to beat. However, we are a bit Old School in that we like our table tops to be relatively plain and simple in the Young and Grant style. This facilitates the movement of large quantities of figures across the table top and puts the focus where we want it: on the figures themselves. I like to add buildings and other terrain pieces by that master craftsman, Herb Gundt, of H.G. Walls, who makes all of my miniature buildings. So we jazz the table top up with our figures and buildings, but leave the surface rather plain and simple.

I've mentioned our "informal campaign" several times in this post. Let me explain what that is. Each army starts a game with the same number of army points, so the forces are comparable in size. The winner of the game gets +5% more figures in the next game. If that player wins a second consecutive game, then he gets +10% more figures in the following game. To make that situation fair, the loser of two games gets a certain amount of walls or other fortifications to use during the game. That in a nutshell, is how our campaign works.

We are experimenting with using the board game "Friedrich" as the basis for our next campaign. The Friedrich game has a very attractive map of central Europe from the French border all the way to Poland in the East; and the Baltic sea and on south to Austria. The movement system in the game is relatively easy to learn, so we plan to use the Friedrich game to move our armies, and where two armies come into contact, a battle will occur. The game incorporates such strategic things as supply depots, lines of communication and other things of that ilk (there's that word again).

Monday, September 3, 2007

What About The Austrians?

Top: Marshal Daun & Cavalry General Lucchesi (painted by Der Alte Fritz)

Bottom: Regiment Sincere (RSM figures by Der Alte Fritz)

Some of you are undoubtedly wondering about the Austrians, so I thought I would post a couple of pictures of my SYW Austrian army, which is very much a work in progress at this point, and is "not ready for prime time" against my vast Prussian forces. Whereas my Prussians have a dozen battalions of infantry and fourteen squadrons of cavalry, the poor Austrians have only six battalions of infantry and six squadrons of cavalry.

The above pictures depict the commanding general of the Austrian army, Marshal Leopold von Daun (Front Rank figure) on the left, and cavalry general Graf Lucchesi (Crusader Miniatures figure) on the left. Click on the picture to see it at full size. I've decided to base commanders on 2-inch diameter round bases rather than on a conventional 1-inch by 2-inch horse stand. The round base immediately tells the player that this figure represents on of the commanders. It also provides one with the opportunity to make a mini-diorama out of the base.

Terraining the Bases: I've used my usual spackeling compound and brown paint for the terrain, with bits of sand and flock to add texture and interest to the base. I've also created the impression of taller grass on the command stands by snipping off pieces of sisal scrub brush and inserting them into the wet spackling mix on the base. It helps to build up a little mound of spackle before pushing the scrub brush into the wet mix. This gives the brush something to grab onto. When dry, I touch up the dirt areas with a little tan drybrushing and and dab some light green paint, thinned with water, onto the bits of scrub brush. Sometimes I will also cut out a small piece of flat cherry or mahogany wood and glue it onto the base behind the rider. Then I print the general's name out on a piece of paper from my computer, and glue the name tag onto the little strip of wood. It makes for a nice looking name plate.

The Figures: I like the Front Rank Austrian general casting. My recollection is that they have Marshal Daun, Prince Charles of Lorraine and the hussar general Nadasdy available. There is also a fun casting of a mounted Croat officer holding a severed head in one hand. I leave it to your imagination as to who the unfortunate head belongs to. Crusader also makes two nice mounted Austrian generals and also has the dismounted versions as well, all in one pack.

I have a long way to go on the Austrian infantry contingent. So far I have painted two battalions of Crusader Miniatures figures (de Ligne and Kaiser), two battalions of Front Rank figures (Botta and Macguire), one Warrior Miniatures battalion (purchased in a flea market - British figures from the 1745 range that were painted as Austrians), and one converged battalion of Croats (RSM figures). The second picture depicts the start of a battalion Sincere using RSM figures. These still require a little bit of work, but they are getting close to done and I know that many of you like to see the pictures of the RSM range. Our group also has two other Austrian battalions from Old Glory (one of German fusiliers and one of grenadiers), so we are catching up with our Prussian contingent, fielding 8 battalions of Austrians.

Austrian Organization for BAR: The organization of the Austrian infantry has been somewhat perplexing at times, with the size of the battalion ranging from as low as 512 men to as high as 840 men. Some of the army returns prior to the battle of Leuthen in 1757 indicate that the average battalion size before Leuthen was around 500 men. In BAR, we often use 600 men as the generic size of a battalion regardless of its nation. This is a good number to use for organizing wargame armies.

In Christopher Duffy's book "Instrument of War, The Austrian Army in the SYW", he states that the infantry battalion was subdivided into 16 Zuges. These, in turn, were organized into 8 half divisions and then into 4 grand divisions. Duffy indicates that the grand division had 128 privates, or 512 rank and file in the battalion. On pages 402-403 of the Duffy book, there is a diagram of the battalion in the field and I counted roughly 51 officers and other supernumeraries and 6 artillerists manning the battalion gun. So that gets us up to 569 men of all ranks. That is a far cry from the 840 men in the "official establishment" at the start of the SYW. I used 540 men as the standard for my Austrian organization: 4 grand divisions of 12 figures in 3 ranks, and one command stand of 6 figures (2 standards, 2 officers and 2 drummers).

The standards are GMB Designs of course and the figures come from Crusader, Front Rank, Warrior, and RSM. Now some figures are taller than others, while some are thin versus some being more chunky. I think that as long as you keep a battalion limited to all figures of one brand, that you can mix different sized figures on your wargame table with the BAR rules. When you are dealing with 54 to 60 figures in a battalion, the mass of the overall size seems to trick the eye into thinking that there is no discernable difference in the size of the figures. So Der Alte Fritz says, "use them all!"

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Reinforcements Have Arrived

Potsdam Miniatures (painted by Der Alte Fritz)

Der Alte Fritz would like to introduce everyone to one of his newest regiments, the Alt Braunschweig (IR5) regiment, which was stationed at Magdeburg during peace time. According to Christopher Duffy, the regiment was "solid and well disciplined. Distinguished at Liegnitz". Its two grenadier companies were paired with those of the Bornstedt Regiment (IR20) to form the composite grenadier battalion Jung-Billerbeck. Both parent regiments and the composite grenadier battalion were highly regarded by Frederick and they were frequently a part of the King's own Royal Army that accompanied him on his campaigns.

The Prussian system of naming regiments may seem confusing at first as we often referred to a regiment by either a number, such as "IR5" (which stands for Infantry Regiment No. 5) or by the name of its "Inhaber", which in the case of IR5 is the Duke of Brunswick, hence the name "Alt-Braunschweig. Sometimes the another member of the same family would be an inhaber of another Prussian regiment, in which case it would be referred to as "Jung Braunschweig" (IR39 - a fusilier regiment in this example). During the Seven Years War, the regiments were referred to by the Inhaber's name. The use of the regimental number was implemented long after the conclusion of the SYW.

The figures shown in the pictures above are from my own range of figures that I had commissioned recently. They are approximately 32mm to 34mm tall from the bottom of the foot to the top of the head, and they are designed to be compatible with the Stadden figures. As some of you may be aware, I like firing line poses, because this is what soldiers did once they were engaged in battle: they fired at each other. I do like the stately and traditional march attack pose too, but there has always been a dearth of firing figures for this period and making my own figures seemed to be the best way to handle the need for such figures. The flags shown on the regiment are from GMB Designs. They are simply the best flags available on the market. With product this good, why bother hand painting your own flags anymore. I know that I could not do a better job myself. Boy, I wish that these flags had been available 20 years ago when I first started gaming.

The figures are designed to fit together to form a 3-rank firing line with the front rank kneeling at the ready, the second rank is standing firing, and the third rank is standing at the ready. One could also depict a 2-rank line with maybe the front rank kneeling and the second rank firing, or the front rank standing firing and the second rank standing at the ready, or even two ranks standing at the ready. So there is a lot of flexibility in my poses. The officer standing holding his sword is taken from a Menzel drawing showing the officer in the front rank, staring down the firing line to make sure that everyone is in his proper place. The drummer pose is also taken from one of the Menzel plates. I particularly like the NCO pose, a stern looking feldwebel standing at attention and looking to his right as if to inspect the lads. The "kurzgewehr" or pike is cast onto the figure and is particularly strong and won't break off.

The figure range also includes a standard bearer, which you can see in the back row of the the first picture on this page (click on the picture to enlarge). His hands are open and it is really easy to affix a wire flag pole into his hand so that it won't fall off or bend. This has always been one of my pet peeves about standard bearers -- they often require a lot of work drilling a hole out in the hands, or else there is not enough metal to secure the flag pole in the figure's hands. I don't have such problems with my figures.

The overall design philosophy for these figures, which I call "Potsdam Miniatures", is to replicate the elegant, graceful style of such figures as Stadden, Suren, Elite Miniatures and RSM. The figures have a natural look to them, i.e. they look like real people, only in miniature form, because the figure proportions are correct. These stand about 6 to 7 heads high which is the proper proportion of a human being. The heads are not oversized nor do we allow the hands to look like baseball mitts. So you won't be able to paint every single knuckle on these lads because you wouldn't be able to see the knuckles in the first place, if they were real people.

I think that the figures paint up very nicely. See the close up examples of the drummer and the man kneeling. I black prime undercoat and then paint the whole figure with acrylic black paint to give all the black bits (tricorn, gaitors, cartridge box) a more natural look. Then dark blue is painted over the uniform coat and then dry brushed with a lighter shade of blue. I think that dry brushing has a more natural look to it than other painting methods, but that is just my personal preference. The breeches and waistcoat were done with two shades of yellowish tan, to effect the "straw" color that was used for this regiment. The turnbacks also used two tones of red. My favorite paints are the Iron Wind Metals (IWM) and the Reaper Paints.

I finished off the figures by attaching them to a 1" square metal base for our BAR rules system. The metal base is painted a dark color (or save a step by priming the figure already attached to the metal base) so that shiny bits don't show through the edge of the base. Then, I use Red Devil Pre-mixed Spackel Compound to terrain the base. You just mix in the desired color of paint until the spackel looks like chocolate pudding, and then slather the goop around the base. While this is still wet, I next sprinkle on some fine railroad ballast and then sprinkle a littel bit of Woodlands Scenics "burnt grass" flock (use fine instead of course) on the stand. After a couple of hours, the spackle will have dried and then I spritz them with Dullcoat for protection.

I also have a similar set of poses for the grenadiers in firing line and I'm currently working on the 5/20 grenadier battalion that goes with IR5 and IR20. I hope to be able to add artillery crew and march attack poses next year, and perhaps some compatible Austrians to provide the noble opposition. Eventually the figures will be available for retail sale, but we are still working out some kinks and bottlenecks in the molds and the casting process. But overall, Der Alte Fritz is quite pleased with his new recruits and plans to add more for the coming campaign.